Sunday, June 1, 2014

Band of the Hand (Paul Michael Glaser, 1986)

Forget about separate knobs. Why Lauren Holly?!? Why Lauren Holly?!? Why did you have to cross your legs while sipping a glass of cool, refreshing Perrier on James Remar's sofa? Oh, hey. Don't mind me, I'm just cursing the fact that Lauren Holly chose to sit this way at around the thirty minute mark of Band of the Hand, a glorified episode of Miami Vice mixed with what looks like an all-male version of Survivor. (Don't you mean, Gay Survivor?) Yeah, "Gay Survivor," that's exactly what it was. Seriously, if I was a gay man, or a straight woman for that matter (I keep forgetting they, for some inexplicable reason, dig dudes as well), I would be all over Danny Quinn; man, he's one handsome son of a bee-sting in this movie. The shots of him cruising around Miami in that flashy dark teal blazer confused the living fuck out of my genitals. Anyway, getting back to Lauren Holly. The moment I saw her cross her legs, I said to myself: Thanks, Lauren Holly, because of you, and, your sexy manner of sitting, I'm going to have to review this movie. I know, I don't technically have to do anything of the sort, but Lauren Holly gave me no choice. To put what I'm getting at in the simplest terms possible: Lauren Holly's legs are the reason this review exist. So, if the sight of the title "Band of the Hand" caused you to have an unpleasant flashback to the 1980s, blame Lauren Holly. Luckily, the film adheres pretty close to the Miami Vice formula.

Produced by Michael Mann (Thief, The Keep), and directed by Paul Michael Glaser, the director of the classic Miami Vice feature-length episode, The Prodigal Son" (he also directed "Calderone's Return Part II" and "Smuggler's Blues"), the film is about a gang of misfits who are shaped and molded into an elite crime-fighting commando force by a tough-talking Miccosukee ex-Marine turned vice cop. So sit back and enjoy the ride as this ragtag bunch of hoodlums slowly build up their self-esteem by hunting wild boar in the swamps of South Florida.

Oh, crap. It just dawned me that I've already used the words "misfits" and "ragtag." Damn it, I didn't want to employ them so soon. Dare I use them more than once? What is this, amateur hour? Of course I won't use them again. I'll have come up with another way to describe the group of young people who may or may not be a... well, you know.

Introduced to a veritable gaggle of adolescent nonconformists who are incongruously varied in character, the film shows five youths from various backgrounds being arrested. The first two are nabbed together while brawling, Streets of Fire-style, on the streets of Miami during a rumble between the Home Boys and the 27th Ave. Players. How do I know what gangs these two youths are mixed up with? It's simple, really, I just took a look-see at their rap sheets (they briefly flash on the screen). And it would seem that Ruben Pacecho (Michael Carmine), alias: "Mira Primo," and Moss Roosevelt (Leon), alias: "Warlord," are both 16 years-old.

The next youth we meet is Carlos (Danny Quinn), alias: "The Lover," a drug pusher. He gets busted trying to sell cocaine while his equally teenage girlfriend, Nikki (Lauren Holly), waits outside in a white Porsche. Don't worry, she isn't caught. But I have to say, the NARC who shot at Nikki as she fled the scene should be fired. Who do you think you are, Sonny Crockett? Shooting multiple rounds at a fleeing vehicle in the parking lot of a busy hotel is a definite no-no.

Meanwhile, at a nearby trailer park, Lee MacEwen (John Cameron Mitchell), alias: "Crazy," a new wave explosives expert, kills his father (who was in the middle of beating up his mother). And later that evening, at a youth detention centre, Jon Bridger (Al Shannon), alias: "Rattler," a car thief, is caught trying to escape.

It should be noted that not all the information on the rap sheets is accurate. For instance, Rattler's first name is actually Dorcey (for some reason his rap sheets says his name is Jon), and Carlos' rap sheet says his name is Rene. The only explanation for this I can think of for all this is that the names of the characters were changed or altered slightly after the rap sheets were already printed up and they didn't bother to change them. Or maybe...

Wearing blue tights covered in black splotches (with matching heels of course), a large white t-shirt covered in funky splashes of colour (with a black belt and a white purse) and a pair of heart-shaped earrings, shows up at the prison Carlos is being held. Only problem is, he's not there.

Where's Carlos? Good question. Actually, that's a pretty crap question. Open your eyes, man. He's on an airboat with four other young offenders in the middle of the swamp. The question you should be asking yourself is: Why are they there?

Direct all your at questions pertaining to why five no good punks were taken from prison and dumped in the middle of the swamp at Joe (Stephen Lang), a Miccosukee vice cop who specializes in turning troubled youth into productive members of society. Okay, maybe that's a bit a stretch, but the man tries.

Oh, and if the name "Miccosukee" sounds familiar, that's because the Miccosukee tribe were featured in the season four episode of Miami Vice called "Indian Wars." You'll notice quite a few similarities to episodes of Miami Vice throughout this movie. The obvious ones being: "The Glades" (Crockett and Tubbs team up with a family of swamp people to battle drug dealers after being stranded in the Everglades), "The Maze" (a gang of criminals hold up in an abandoned building), and "Give a Little, Take a Little" (Gina reluctantly fucks Burt Young).

While "The Glades" and "The Maze" are obvious choices, "Give a Little, Take a Little" reminded me of the situation Lauren Holly's character goes through. Desperate to find out what happened to Carlos (she has no idea her boyfriend is out playing in the swamp with four other dudes), she asks to meet with Nestor (James Remar), his drug dealing, black magic practicing boss.

The meeting, which was facilitated by Aldo (Danton Stone, Neil Chase from My So-Called Life), at a local nightclub (excellent use of Prince's "Let's Go Crazy," by the way), takes place at Nestor's condo.

Wearing a dark skirt with a slit in the back, Nikki enters a room to find Nestor sitting on a large sofa in front of a bank of around ten small television sets. She seems nervous, but takes a seat next to the lounging drug dealer in the red robe. When one of Nestor's henchman brings Nikki a Perrier, she crosses legs something fierce. Now, we don't exactly see the actual moment when she crosses them. But believe me, it was fierce. At any rate, ignoring her query as to the whereabouts of Carlos, Nestor flippantly tells her to go upstairs and take her clothes off. Stunned at first, Nikki ignores his request and continues to ask about Carlos. Clearly annoyed, Nestor repeats the request. Only this time, he does so in a more forceful manner.

It would seem that Nestor is making a play for Carlos' girl (who says she's 16 years-old) while he toils in the jungle. And this play involves her going up to Nestor's bedroom to the sounds of "Faded Flowers" by Shriekback.

I'm glad the filmmakers decided to keep us abreast as to what Lauren Holly's character was up to while Carlos and the boys hung out in the swamp, as I'm not sure if I could handle a movie that was solely about a bunch of guys learning how to survive in the wilderness. Oh, and the manner in which Leon and Michael Carmine fought with one another was so loud and shrill. I was somewhat relieved when they finally became friends, as I don't know how much more I could take of their racially charged bickering. And wouldn't you know it, James Cameron Mitchell's Crazy seems to agree with me, as the first words out of his mouth are to tell them to stop fighting.

When the boys pass Joe's test, the action moves to an Art Deco-style building in the Little Havana section of Miami, where they must battle pimps and junkies. And, of course, resist the temptation to return to their old ways.

Awesome music (Mister Mister in the house!), sweet Uzi shoot outs, cool threads (Carlos' dark teal blazer is so chic it hurts), an all-natural Lauren Holly (leggy and flat-chested... it's a beautiful thing), Laurence Fishburne as a pimp named Cream, Paul Calderon wielding a mini-gun, Martin Ferrero (Izzy from Miami Vice) as a hardware store clerk who knows a thing or two about getting rid of armadillos, and a pre-Hedwig James Cameron Mitchell destroying a pill-box like he was in Saving Private Ryan, I won't say Band of the Hand has everything, but it comes pretty damn close.

One more thing, I don't know how old I was, or if I was even born yet, when this movie came out (my math skills are beyond piss poor), but I distinctly remember wanting to see this movie. The fact it took me this long to get around to checking out a movie I had inkling I wanted to see back in the 1986 is mildly hilarious. Okay, it's not even close to being hilarious. If you think about it, it's actually quite sad. But if you don't think about it, the act of me finally getting around to watching Band of the Hand is greater than anything I ever accomplished during my life time. Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner. That has to be the saddest thing anyone has ever said.


  1. Another classic. All your problems solved through commando training.

  2. Fantastic. Great references to various Vice episodes. Well done!

  3. Thanks. I recently binged watched all five seasons of Miami Vice. Which might explain the references to the series in this review.

  4. wow , I loved that flick as a kid. downloaded and tried to watch it , that's the definition of "It didn't hold up well". Still a fun movie at the time for sure.

    1. Watching Band of the Hand anytime after 1986 is an activity fraught with unforeseen circumstances. :D

  5. I love this movie as a kid and even more as a 40 year old vet of a military. I love the guy Joe he was my hero as a kid and my dad.